Skip to main content

Full text of "The absorptive capacity of Palestine"

See other formats



Abraham Revusky was born in Palestine, spent his boy- 
hood in Russia and received his university education in Vienna, 
Austria. In 1919 he returned to Palestine and devoted three 
years to an exhaustive study of the country's economic and 
social conditions. From Palestine he visited a number of 
European countries, then came to the United States and joined 
the editorial staff of the Jewish Morning Journal (New York) . 
He is a member of the paper's foreign news department. 

In the 1930's Mr. Revusky went to Palestine twice to make 
a detailed survey of the changes that had taken place since his 
earlier visit. His book Jews in Palestine, which is the result 
of his comprehensive study, is regarded as a standard work on 
modern Palestine. He has written other books as well as 
many magazine articles on Palestine in a number of languages. 
The author is a leading authority on the economic aspects of 
Palestine's development. 


Published by 



THE absorptive capacity of a country depends mainly on two 
basic factors. One is the character of the country — its size, 
climate, fertility, communications and natural resources. The 
other is the character of the people who intend to settle there — their 
cultural level, creative abilities, and persistence in achieving their goal. 
It would be utterly wrong to estimate the absorptive capacity of a 
country on the basis of its natural characteristics alone, ignoring the 
character of its inhabitants and settlers. It may even be said that the 
human factor in the settlement of a country is more important than 
the purely geographical problems involved in its colonization. History 
knows many instances in which capable and industrious people trans- 
formed seemingly poor regions into highly developed and prosperous 
countries. New England, for instance, with its meagre soil and lack of 
mineral resources never would have become one of the most prosper- 
ous regions in the world if not for the energy and resourcefulness of 
its Puritan settlers. And did not the Norwegians by generations of 
persistent work achieve a high level of culture and prosperity in a 
seemingly hopeless mountainous country with a cold climate and a 
barren soil? 

On the other hand, there are instances of countries blessed by 
nature with exceptional possibilities but which sank into decay because 
of a population change that put these countries into the hands of 
undeveloped peoples. Such a country is Iraq, the ancient Mesopotamia, 
the "country between the rivers," exceptionally fertile and suitable for 
large scale irrigation. Whereas it was once inhabited by fifteen to 
twenty million people, and took a leading part in world history, it 
now barely supports its three million Arab inhabitants, most of whom 
live in a state of extreme poverty and chronic undernourishment. 


% 1 «?*■■' 

Ancient Culture and Present Decay 

Let us now apply this general rule to Palestine, predestined to 
become the Jewish National Home. There is no doubt that Palestine 
once had a much larger population than at present. According to the 
Roman-Jewish historian, Josephus Flavius, Palestine, including Trans- 
Jordan had a population of seven to eight millions shortly before the 
Roman conquest. Even if we regard these figures as exaggerated, 
modern historians, weighing evidence from other sources, have reason 
to set Palestine's ancient population much above the 1,900,000 people 
now living within the historic frontiers of the Promised Land. The 
most conservative estimate of Palestine's population before the destruc- 
tion of the Second Temple is from 3,000,000 to 3,500,000. 

The ability of ancient Palestine to feed such a comparatively large 
population, occupied mainly in agricultural pursuits, was due to the 
good care taken of the land in Biblical times. According to historical 
and archeological evidence the plains of Palestine were then in- 
tensely cultivated. Even the slopes of the hills, through an extended 
system of man-made terraces, were covered by vineyards and orchards, 
or planted with cereal crops. Compared with this highly developed 
ancient civilization most of Palestine is now in a state of neglect. The 
terraces which once leveled the slopes of the hills and helped to 
retain the fertile upper soil were almost all ruined after the conquest 
of the country by nomads from the Arabian Desert. The forests which 
formerly covered a large part of the hilly country were gradually cut 
down for fuel, and their aftergrowth was destroyed by goats roaming 
all over Palestine. The terraces and forests gone, the torrential winter 
rains washed the upper soil and rocks into the valleys, and to this 
day most of the hills present a picture of nakedness and desolation. 
Similarly, the disappearance of ancient orchards near the seacoast 
facilitated the movement of sand dunes towards the interior. Rolling 
steadily to the east, they gradually stopped the course of the streams 
flowing from the hilly country to the Mediterranean. The unavoidable 
result was the formation of large malaria-breeding swamps. 

Since the Jews began the modern resettlement of Palestine about 
sixty years ago, some of these swamps have been drained and a 
number of hills are again protected by terraces, but these improve- 
ments are not sufficiently extensive to change the character of the 
country as a whole. There is no doubt that as Jewish settlement 
continues, Palestine's soil will gradually regain its former productive- 


ness, and the country will once again be able to feed a much larger 
population than that which it maintains at present. 

Significant Jewish Achievements 

The potential productivity of Palestine's soil is proved not only by 
historical evidence, but by daily experience in our own time. Certain 
localities which were formerly considered useless from the agricultural 
point of view are now, after their acquisition and reclamation by the 
Jews, producing excellent crops. 

Only forty years ago most of the maritime plain between Tel-Aviv 
and Haifa looked like a sandy desert. It now contains some of the best 
citrus groves in the world. An agricultural family can in normal times 
exist there on a parcel of five to six acres of irrigated land. 

The valley of Esdraelon, known in Bibical times for its fertility 
and left to malaria and decay after the Arab conquest, again produces 
abundant cereals and tree crops. Its present population, predominantly 
Jewish, is about five times as large as it was before the beginning of 
modern Jewish settlement. When plans for bringing some of the 
upper Jordan water into the valley of Esdraelon will be realized, its 
present relatively large agricultural population can be trebled. 

There is a small valley, named Huleh, in the northern part of 
Palestine. It contains altogether about forty thousand acres of land, 
most of which is under water and covered by swamps. A few years 
ago Jewish colonizing agencies under the leadership of the Jewish 
National Fund acquired the concession for the development of this 
area, reputed to be the most unhealthy spot in Palestine. When the 
extensive work contemplated by the Jewish concessionaires is com- 
pleted, the valley of Huleh will become a richly productive area, 
where truck crops stimulated by abundant water and the warm sun 
will be harvested three and four times a year, yielding a livelihood 
to a considerable rural population. The Huleh concession provides 
not only for the colonization of Jews on reclaimed soil, but for 
permanent settlement of the local Arab population. Roaming with 
their buffaloes in malaria-infested swamps, these Arabs live in a state 
of poverty and disease. Given sufficient plots of irrigated land, they 
will attain a high level of prosperity and health. For our experience 
has conclusively shown that 30 to 40 dunams (a dunam is about a 
quarter of an acre) of irrigated land provides a farmer with a more 
regular and secure income than 250 to 350 dunams of dry farm land 
dependent on the whims of nature. 

Irrigation Possibilities 

About ten years ago American experts (Professor Strahorn and 
Mr. F. Julius Fohs), after an extensive study of Palestine's irrigation 
facilities, reported that, outside of the Negev, a semi-arid and 
sparsely populated southern area of Palestine, at least 3,500,000 
dunams can be fully irrigated from existing sources. Another study* 
estimated the irrigable area in Palestine's five largest plains (Maritime 
Plain, Esdraelon, Acce Plain, Jordan Valley, Huleh Valley) as 4,144,800 
dunams. Since the time that estimate was made, new and abundant 
sources of water have been found in the sub-soil of Palestine, and the 
prospect of bringing Jordan water to the Negev for irrigation pur- 
poses is now a generally accepted possibility. An estimate of 5,500,000 
dunams as the irrigable area of Palestine must therefore now be con- 
sidered extremely conservative. Only 400,000 dunams are under irri- 
gation today, and in terms of market value, they provide about forty 
percent of Palestine's total food production! 

The above examples and figures are sufficient to give a definite 
idea of the possibilities of Palestine's agricultural expansion if Jews 
are given a free hand in developing the water resources of the country 
and intensively settling its under-developed areas. Such a land policy 
would open up opportunities for settling hundreds of thousands of 
Jewish immigrants on the land, but there would be enough land to 
provide the Arab agriculturists of the country with irrigated farms, 
assuring them a better and more secure living than they can wrest 
•from the present neglected soil. 

In our further calculation of Palestine's absorptive capacity, we 
will limit ourselves to the area west of the Jordan, thus omitting from 
our study 37,740 square miles of Transjordan which was separated 
from the rest of Palestine by the British Government after the last, 
war. This large and very sparsely inhabited land up to 1922 formed 
an integral part of Palestine. But even the land west of the Jordan 
can absorb millions of Jewish settlers. As soon as 5,000,000 of Pales- 
tine's 26,319,400 dunams are brought under irrigation — and this is 
below the maximum of irrigable land — the farm population of 
Palestine, now amounting to about 800,000, can be increased to at 
least two million souls. Keeping our estimates conservative, we shall 
limit our expectations to only one million agricultural settlers, thus 
leaving a margin for additional demands for land arising from the 
natural increase of the present Jewish and Arab farm population. 

"Prepared by the author, based on the Report of the Joint Palestine Survey Commission (1928). 

Reclamation of the Hills 

While the prospects of increasing Palestine's farm population are 
based mainly on irrigation, there are great possibilities for increasing 
Palestine's agricultural production by more scientific grazing methods 
and by the reclamation of Palestine's hill districts. Though not suited for 
irrigation, most of Palestine's hilly areas receive enough rainfall to 
make possible the growth of forests and tree crops. These tree crops 
will improve Palestine's food balance in various ways. For instance, 
olive trees, planted on a large scale, will be able to thrive on most of 
Palestine's hills as soon as soil erosion is stopped. These will con- 
tribute to Palestine's food production both their fruits and the valu- 
able oii extracted from them. Carob trees, too, are a valuable asset 
from the point of view of Palestine's nutrition. Though their fruits are 
not important for human consumption, their pods offer concentrated 
and abundant food for milch cows and poultry. 

The cultivated area of Palestine now amounts to 7,500,000 dunams, 
though only a small part of it — about 400,000 dunams — is under 
irrigation. Opinions concerning the maximum of cultivable land differ 
greatly. British experts, who considered as "cultivable" the lands that 
"can be brought into cultivation by the means of the average Arab 
peasant," began with estimates of 12,500,000 dunams (the figure given 
by the Director of Lands in 1925) and ended with an estimate of 
8,044,000 dunams (the figure given by John Hope Simpson in 1931.) 
Jewish experts, on the other hand, consider as "cultivable" any land 
that can be reclaimed by modern agricultural methods and machinery; 
they therefore estimate the cultivable area as at least 14,000,000 dun- 
ams. Some believe that it may be as much as 17,000,000 dunams. 
Experience has demonstrated that in all cases where seemingly hope- 
less land was acquired by Jews the maximum estimate of Zionist 
experts was actually reached. 

We may therefore safely conclude that in addition to millions of 
dunams of irrigable land there are large areas on the plains and in 
the hills which can be brought under cultivation. Such cultivation, 
though necessarily less extensive than that of irrigable land, will 
nevertheless markedly increase the absorptive capacity of Palestinian 

Jewish experience with Palestinian colonization has proved that 
for every family settled on the land, four additional families can be 
settled in towns and villages, to live from industry, commerce, mari- 
time trades, transportation, the professions, etc. We have shown, too, 

that Palestine's soil is able to feed at least a million more farmers. 
Hence it follows that other branches of human endeavor will be able 
to absorb four million additional immigrants. Thus the total absorptive 
capacity of Palestine, even within present artificial mandate frontiers, 
can easily reach five millions. 

Let us not be satisfied, however, with this general deduction. Let 
us instead review other important branches of human endeavor and 
show their probable contribution to the absorptive capacity of Pal- 

The Industrialization of Palestine 

At the beginning of Jewish settlement in Palestine, the opponents 
of Zionism used to argue that Palestine could not become an important 
industrial country because of its lack of iron and coal. Events have 
shown that this handicap was much less serious than it seemed to be. 
To be sure, without iron and coal, heavy metallurgical industries like 
those of Pittsburgh or Gary, Indiana, cannot be established. However, 
the industrial future we envisage for Palestine is based on light indus- 
tries directly serving the consumers of the country and producing goods 
suited for export to the neighboring Middle East states. Industries of 
this sort do not require large quantities of steel. Moreover, during the 
last generation iron and steel have lost their former primary position 
in the production of machinery and other manufactured products. Cop- 
per, nickel, aluminum, magnesium and all sorts of metal alloys are 
playing an increasingly important part in the industrial life of the . 
world; some of these metals are found in Palestine; others are acces- 
sible to it on the same conditions as to other industrial countries. 

Similarly, in the sixty years since the beginning of Palestinian 
colonization, important developments have taken place in the fuel 
and power situation of the world. Coal has ceased to be what it was 
at the end of the last century — an essential requirement for industrial 
purposes. Fuel oil and hydro-electric power are becoming more and 
more important, and both these sources of energy are available in 
Palestine. The power which can be generated by the Jordan's drop 
from 3,000 feet above to 1300 feet below sea level is yet to be fully 
utilized and there is also the probability that the great difference in 
levels between the Mediterranean and the Dead Sea will likewise be 
utilized for a great hydro-electric development. As for fuel oil, it is 
brought by pipe line in increasing quantities from the Iraq fields to 
the Palestinian harbor of Haifa where the line terminates. While the 
Iraq Petroleum Company now exploits its opportunity to .exacts 

monopolistic prices in Palestine, this situation can be expected to 
change in the future. There is no valid reason why fuel oil in Haifa 
should be more expensive than in the American West. Reasonable 
prices for oil will put Palestine's industry on a healthy competitive 
basis in the markets of the world. 

Mineral Resources 

The lack of iron and coal is, furthermore, largely compensated 
for by the enormous quantity of useful minerals dissolved in the waters 
of the Dead Sea. These minerals — potash, bromine, magnesium, 
chlorine and common salt — are becoming progressively more impor- 
tant as basic materials in modern chemical industry. It has been esti- 
mated that the value of the minerals in the waters of the Dead Sea 
exceeds the annual national income of the United States. 

In addition to the resources of the Dead Sea, Palestine possesses 
sizeable desposits of sulphur and phosphates which enhance the coun- 
try's prospects of becoming an important world chemical center. Since 
the most important constituent elements of chemical fertilizers abound 
in its soil and waters, there is a real possibility of providing Pales- 
tine's agriculture with inexhaustible quantities of cheap fertilizers 
which would result in greatly increased farm production. Thus the 
mineral resources of Palestine, combined with its climate and irriga- 
tion facilities, will make possible the production of food for domestic 
purposes and for export in quantities which would seem fantastic 
compared with the present agricultural output of the country. 

Jews were the pioneers in the development of Palestine's power 
resources and also in the extraction of minerals from the concentrated 
waters of the Dead Sea. Both developments are still in their initial 
stages. After the war Jewish energy, if not hampered by artificial 
restrictions, will undoubtedly exploit Palestine's mineral resources and 
power possibilities on a large scale and thus create a broader basis 
for a large and continuously expanding industry. 

Agricultural products, too, will extend that basis. Even now many 
Palestinian industrial establishments are engaged in processing the 
products of the country's fields and orchards. Starting originally with 
flour mills; oil presses, and wine cellars Palestine's agricultural indus- 
try now includes canning, the manufacture of drugs and essential 
oils, the extraction of vitamins, the production of jams, juices and 
other industrial food specialties. The manufacture of alcohol and sugar 
recently begun in the fertile valley of Esdraelon is a further example 

of an agriculturally based industry. With the increase in Palestine's 
irrigated area, this kind of industrial activity will grow enormously. 

Local and Imported Raw Materials 

Experience, however, has shown that Palestine's industry need not 
always depend upon locally produced raw materials. Due to its geo- 
graphic position as the hub of three continents and in the immediate 
vicinity of the Suez Canal, the largest communication artery of the 
Old World, Palestine has unlimited possibilities for obtaining raw 
materials from the rich countries of India and the Near East at prices 
not exceeding those paid in the large industrial centers of the United 
States and Europe. Palestine, has, therefore, great prospects of devel- 
oping important industries based on imported raw materials. It is 
particularly fitted for the development of those industries, based to a 
large extent on imported materials, which can be sold in great part in 
foreign markets; shipping costs in these cases are of very minor import- 
ance in the calculation of prices. The cost of importing these raw materi- 
als will be offset by the export of articles manufactured from them. 

Palestine already possesses a sizeable number of industries of this 
type which have amply proved their vitality and stability under adverse 
conditions. Skepticism greeted their advent in almost every case. When, 
for instance, an American Jew established a factory for artificial teeth 
in a suburb of Tel-Aviv about twenty-years ago, people doubted his 
judgment, and argued that Palestine hardly required a sufficient num- 
ber of artificial teeth to provide work for a comparatively large fac- 
tory. Yet Palestine-made artificial teeth have not only captured the 
limited markets of the Near East but are in great demand in Great 
Britain as well. 

Years later the same skepticism met the enterprise of two Jevish 
experts from Germany who began to manufacture razor blades in 
Rishon le Zion, the oldest Jewish colony of Palestine. Those razor 
blades are made of high quality Swedish steel, and over-conservative 
economists thought that because the raw material was imported the 
factory would not be able to compete with the European product. The 
razor blade factory has been most successful. It is even said that British 
soldiers in the Middle East now prefer the Palestinian blades to 
those of their own country. The secret of this success is simple. The 
cost of steel is only an insignificant part of the total cost of a razor 
blade. The chief item in computing cost is labor. Hence the difference 
in the cost of transporting Swedish steel plates to one country as 


against another is insignificant when calculations of the total C0S1 Oi 
the blades are considered. 

A third example illustrating this general principle is the recent 
establishment of diamond grinding and polishing shops in Palestine, 
These were greatly expanded after the Hitler conquest of the Low 
Countries which were formerly the center of that so largely Jewish 
industry. The diamond shops of Palestine now employ over 3,000 
workers, and the industrial diamonds they cut are used in large 
quantities by American defense factories. 

Jews as Builders of Industry 

The above examples prove that industrial articles, in the produc- 
tion of which labor costs are larger than the cost of raw materials, 
can be produced in any place where cheap transportation is available 
and where able and diligent people are eager to work. Both conditions 
are met in Palestine. Its geographic position makes it a natural center 
of industry and commerce, and the industrial experience and ability, 
the technical knowledge and — most important of all — the inexor- 
able needs of Jewish immigrants, contribute to industrial progress. 
Everyone who has had an opportunity to meet these people and to 
see their eagerness to achieve success will not doubt that a large 
Jewish immigration will further enlarge Palestine industry. A Zionist 
leader once said, "The Jewish immigrant arriving in Palestine carries 
absorptive capacity in his baggage." There is much truth in this 

Even now, in spite of many handicaps, Jewish industry in Palestine 
is achieving a high level of development. At the end of 1942, with a 
total investment of 90 million dollars, it employed about 55,000 
workers. For a community of only 550,000 people this is an imposing 
achievement Palestinian industry has proved of great help to the 
Allied war effort in the East, providing the Allied Armies with cement, 
barbed wire, electrical ^batteries, clothing, boots, drugs, surgical instru- 
ments and much other necessary equipment. 

When estimating the absorptive capacity of Palestine's industry in 
the future, we must take into consideration the fact that in the course 
of its development it has had to overcome many difficulties, including 
a restricted local market and the lack of technical facilities, normal 
credit conditions and tariff protection. Given better political condi- 
tions, which in this case would mean more protection for local industry 
and equal rights for its products abroad, the development of Palestine's 
industry should proceed at a much quicker pace. 


In contradistinction to agriculture, it is difficult to gauge the absorp- 
tive capacity of Palestine's industry. We cannot conscientiously set any 
figure for the maximum number of Jews it could employ in the 
future. We are firmly convinced that its potentialities are great. Pro- 
vided the future world is based on peaceful exchange of products and 
services among all the countries, Jewish energy and Jewish needs will 
make Palestine one of the most developed industrial centers of the 

Maritime Trades 

Palestine's leading economic planners emphasize the need for the 
establishment of a merchant marine which will be engaged mainly in 
traffic to and from Palestine. The lack of such a fleet has been one of 
the weakest points in Palestine's Jewish economy. Italian, French and 
Greek shipping companies have transported Jewish immigrants to 
Palestine, and Scandinavian, Dutch and British steamers have monopol- 
ized the shipping of Palestine citrus products. Through these shipping 
companies, large sums brought by Jews to Palestine were diverted to 
other countries. When there will be a Palestinian Jewish merchant 
marine to serve Palestine's increasing foreign trade, thousands of 
additional families will be able to live on the earnings of those 
employed as sailors, ship-builders, stevedores and other maritime 
workers. By giving a great deal of attention to this important source 
of revenue, the Jews of Palestine may at some future date become an 
important factor in international maritime trade outside of Palestine. 
When we remember that some European countries derive up to a 
third of their national income from shipping on the high seas, we 
can appreciate the great prospects of increasing Palestine's absorptive 
capacity through these channels. 

Along with the establishment of a merchant marine and its 
concomitants, ship-building and harbor work, a considerable source of 
national income could be opened by greater development of the fishing 
trade. This would give opportunity for livelihood to thousands of new 

The Jews of Palestine have already made a beginning in the 
development of maritime trades. While Jews in the diaspora have been 
estranged from this field of work, Palestine Jewry has been actively 
interested in its development during the last ten to fifteen years. 
Young men have been sent abroad to become experienced sailors, 
fishermen and navigators. Jewish and non-Jewish experts from Europe 
have been encouraged to go. to Palestine to lead and advise Jewish 


workers engaged in these activities. The new harbor of Tel Aviv, buill 
exclusively by Jewish effort, has become a great school ol maridmi 
experience, and, in addition, Jews now have an important pan m in- 
activities of the great harbor of Haifa where no Jews worked U 
recently as twenty years ago. Fishing villages, combining fisheries wilh 
agriculture, have been established on the shores of the Mediterranean 
These beginnings, as well as the work of a few thousand yOung Jews 
in the sea and harbor tasks connected with the British Eighth Army, 
have created a substantial foundation on which much can be buill m 
the future. 

Palestine as a Tourist Center 

There are many other branches of economic activity which may 
serve to increase Palestine's absorptive capacity after the present war. 
Palestine's holy places have always attracted great numbers of tourists. 
Its medical facilities give promise of attracting many visitors. The 
influx of outstanding medical specialists exiled from Hitler Germany, 
and the modern facilities for healing and research provided by Hadas- 
sah's magnificent hospital in Jerusalem, are giving Palestine a growing 
reputation as a medical center. The establishment of a pharmacolocy 
institute and a pharmaceutics laboratory by Hadassah and the Hebrew 
University is an important forward step in stimulating the develop- 
ment of the pharmaceutics industry. The continuation of efforts in the 
spheres of medicine and health and the further development of 
Palestine's spas — the wells of Tiberias, of Gadarah, of Calliroe, and 
the Dead Sea, — may make Palestine an important cure and recreation 
center. Everyone who knows how beneficial such activities were for the 
economic life of Germany and Czechoslavakia before the present war 
will not accuse us of exaggeration if we say we can expect thousands 
of people to find employment as a result of the development of 
similar medical facilities in Palestine. 

Commerce, so important in the economic life of other Jewish 
communities, does not play an exceptionally large part in Jewish 
Palestine. This is due to the great stress laid by Palestine's Jewish 
pioneers on agriculture, industry', extraction of minerals, and other 
primary and productive occupations. Jewish Palestine is proud — and 
rightly so — of the more normal distribution of trade and occupations 
among Jews after two generations of hard effort. But even while 
avoiding the stress on commerce characteristic of Jewish communities 
in the diaspora, Palestine must still, realistically thinking, expect a 
larger development of commerce in the future. The Jewish National 
Home is bound, to become a great trading avenue between the undcr- 


developed countries of the East with their enormous wealth o'f raw 
materials, and the industrially developed countries of Europe with 
their surplus of manufactured goods. Commerce of this sort which 
helps in the final analysis to develop civilization and raise standards 
of living, offers Palestine of the future another great opportunity to 
increase its absorptive capacity for Jewish immigration. 


The above facts and analyses ought to convince those who have mis- 
givings concerning the extent of Palestine's absorptive capacity. While 
figures dealing with the future cannot be scientifically exact, we may 
safely conclude that on the basis of facts already established, our 
previous estimate of 5,000,000 new immigrants above the present Jew- 
ish and Arab population of Palestine should be accepted as conserva- 
tive. Even after 5,000,000 new immigrants enter Palestine its popula- 
tion density will be less than that of Belgium or Holland. If it had as 
many inhabitants per square mile as Belgium, Its population could 
reach 8,500,000 rather than the present 1,600,000. There is no reason 
why eventually Palestine could not match Belgium's- density of popu- 
ation and even exceed it. True, Belgium possesses large deposits of 
coal and iron which are lacking in Palestine. It does not, however, 
possess Palestine's inexhaustible sources of minerals, and it cannot 
match its agricultural production. The geographic location of Pales- 
tine in the vicinity of the Suez Canal may prove just as important an 
asset for its future development as the location of the Low Countries 
at the estuary of the Rhine, and on the approaches to the English 
Channel. Furthermore, the ability, devotion and energy of the Jewish 
people in Palestine are no mean factor in the equation. 

Post-War Possibilities 

We have not yet considered the time element in this problem. 
How long should it take to absorb 5,000,000 Jews into Palestine? The 
answer depends mainly on the intensity of Jewish colonization and on 
the acuteness of our need for a National Home. It is quite possible 
that Palestine could absorb 5,000,000 Jews in a generation or two but 
may be unable to accept a million people in a shorter period — say 
two or three years immediately after the present war. In other words, 
the problem of Palestine's immediate absorptive capacity must not be 
considered identical with its ultimate prospects as a land of Jewish 
settlement. While the limits of Palestine's ultimate capacity are deter- 
mined by the natural and human factors considered in our discussion, 


the possibility of accepting a large number oJ people immediately 

. after the war is dependent entirely on great Jewish and International 

I efforts. Should a large wave of Jewish immigration surge to Palestine 

j§ immediately after the war, many immigrants will necessarily have to 

be temporarily employed in large public works before they are able 

to find a normal place in Palestine's expanding Jewish economy The 

electrification of the country, large irrigation works, drainage, highway 

building, and reclamation of the hills are important examples of such 

public projects. In themselves they will help to increase Palestine's 

absorptive capacity. 

Such vast undertakings could not possibly be financed by the lim- 
ited sums annually collected by the present Zionist agencies for the 
upbuilding of Palestine. All their means will have to be used for con- 
tinuing their regular work. They will have to buy land, establish 
settlements, encourage industries, conduct vocational training, assist 
health activities, promote education, etc. — not allowing the slightest 
interruption to interfere with these highly important tasks. Indeed, 
these regular Zionist activities will have to be carried on at a far 
swifter pace. 

^ In other words, to cope with the mass immigration expected after 
this war, we will need extraordinary Jewish effort, plus United Nations 
assistance and long term loans. If we provide the means for the 
initial settlement of refugees, the outside world may help us to further 
this great undertaking. But as always in Jewish history, we will have 
to take the initiative. We must help ourselves if we wish to have 
reasonable prospects of help from others. The Jews of the democra- 
cies cannot afford to be inactive in the transition period after the war 
when the need for Palestine by large uprooted Jewish masses will 
be most urgent. Should Zionism fulfill its duty, even the immediate 
absorptive capacity of Palestine will prove to be much larger than we 
expect at present. We trust that their new life in Palestine will make 
it possible for many seemingly broken immigrants to recuperate physi- 
cally and discover creative powers in fhemselves. After they leave 
their temporary labor camps, they will enrich the normal economy of 
Palestine with their work, knowledge and initiative. 

Many times in Palestine's recent history the plans and estimates 
of Zionist leaders seemed conservative, measured against the creative 
force of incoming Jewish masses. Our conception of Palestine's ab- 
sorptive capacity has repeatedly had to be revised upwards because 
of achievements brought about by Jewish abilities and needs. We 
hope and believe that this will be true after this war as well. 



Progress of Palestine since World War I 

Jewish and General Population 

Year General Jewish Percentagt 

1919 700,000 58,000 8.3 

1922 757,182 83,794 11.1 

1931 1,035,141 174,610 16.9 

1941 1,556,922 520,000 33.4 

Growth of Jewish Agriculture 

Year Number of Settlements No. of Inhabitants Land Area (Dunsmsy 

1914 43 12,000 400,000 

1922 73 15,000 600,000 

1933 135 52,000 1,260,000 

1942 265 146,000 1,594,000 

Progress of Jewish Industry 

Year No. of Enterprises No. of Employees Annual Production 

1929 2,475 10,968 LP. 2,510,000 

1933 3,386 19,510 5,329,000 

1937 5,606 30,040 9,109,000 

1942 6,600 56,000 20,500,000 

Development of Hebrew Education (Public School System) 

Year No. of Schools No. of Pupils 

1920-21 137 12,830 

1933-34 295 27,72« 

1941-42 437 62,807 

Results of Health Work 

Death Rate 
(per 1,000 population) 






Arabs (Moslems) 

Infant Mortality 
(per 1,000 live births) 

Jews Arabs (Moslems) 

116 217 

64 148 

54 122 

'"iiSL 1 * 

21/2 M -8-43 
I M -7-45 

This Book is Due on tho Latott Data Stamped 


MAR 24 2005 


MAY 152005